Indian Ocean states need to make equal or proportionate effort in tuna fishing, says Seychelles' fisheries minister
Ferrari said that if Seychelles needs to reduce its catches other countries need to do it proportionately. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
Four fisheries ministers of Indian Ocean countries and representatives of fishing companies in those countries met in Seychelles on Thursday to exchange ideas for the upcoming Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) meeting.
As Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius share the same fishing method in the tuna fishing industry - purse seining - they saw the need to align positions and agree on measures that need to be taken to make the fish stocks sustainable. Madagascar and Mauritius participated virtually.
The 26th session of IOTC will be held in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, from May 16 - 20.
Seychelles' fisheries minister Jean Francois Ferrari told the press that those present want to see every member country in the Indian Ocean making the same or proportionate effort.
"If we need to reduce our catches other countries need to do it proportionately. Unfortunately, it hasn't happened as there are other countries increasing their catches while we have decreased ours. We feel that this is not fair. We have an industry and canning factory to supply and jobs to maintain, as such it is important that this fishery continues," said Ferrari.
|Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and Mauritius exchanged ideas for the upcoming IOTC meeting. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
He outlined that purse seining fishing is one of the most regulated, supervised, and reported types of fisheries at the moment, however, there are countries such as Oman, Pakistan, and Iran that do not report their catch.
"We have learned in the meeting today that Oman alone has doubled the amount of fish it has caught in just one year, whereas we have reduced our catch, and for us, this is no longer acceptable," said Ferrari.
In her presentation, the director of Europêche Tuna Group, Anne-France Mattlet, said purse seiners in the Indian Ocean flying local and EU flags have made an effort since 2014 with a reduction of 22 percent in catches. This has been done to help improve the stock and be able to fish in the long term.
"During the same time, the fisheries of the IOTC have increased by 6 percent. It is impossible in these conditions to succeed in improving the stock situation If we continue in this direction and if we do not implicate other fleets and states," said Mattlet.
The fleets are owned by mainly French and Spanish-owned companies. The Europêche Tuna Group brings together tuna freezer purse-seine organisations in Europe such as OPAGAC-AGAC, ORTHONGEL and ANABAC. Mattlet was also speaking on behalf of ANABAC, a Spanish fishing organisation.
At the end of the meeting a declaration that outlines the points agreed upon was signed.
"We want to meet regularly and share ideas and the declaration serves as a general agreement outlining the principles that we want to apply in the future as countries of the Indian Ocean," said Ferrari.